Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of neem (Azadirachtaindica), an evergreen tree which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced to many other areas in the tropics. It is perhaps the most important of the commercially available products of neem for organic farming and medicines.
Neem oil is generally light to dark brown, bitter and has a rather strong odor that is said to combine the odors of peanut and garlic. It comprises mainly triglycerides and large amounts of triterpenoid compounds, which are responsible for the bitter taste.
It is hydrophobic in nature and in order to emulsify it in water for application purposes, it must be formulated with appropriate surfactants. Neem oil also contains steroids (campesterol,beta-sitosterol,stigmasterol) and a plethora of triterpenoids of which azadirachtinis the most well known and studied. The azadirachtin content of neem oil varies from 300ppm to over 2500ppm depending on the extraction technology and quality of the neem seeds crushed. The method of processing is likely to affect the composition of the oil, since the methods used, such as pressing (expelling) or solvent extraction are unlikely to remove exactly the same mix of components in the same proportions. The neem oil yield that can be obtained from neem seed kernels also varies widely in literature from 25% to 45%.
The oil can be obtained through pressing (crushing) of the seed kernel both through cold pressing or through a process incorporating temperature controls. Neem seed oil can also be obtained by solvent extraction of the neem seed, fruit,oil, cake or kernel. A large industry in India extracts the oil remaining in the seed cake using hexane. This solvent-extracted oil is of a lower quality as compared to the cold pressed oil and is mostly used for soap manufacturing. Neem cake is a by-product obtained in the solvent extraction process for neem oil. (NOTE: LocustGroves only uses cold processed neem oil).
Neem oil is not used for cooking purposes,but in India and Bangladesh,it is used for preparing cosmetics (soap, hair products, body hygiene creams, hand creams) and in Ayurvedic, Unani and folklore traditional medicine, in the treatment of awide range of afflictions. The most frequently reported indications in ancient Ayurvedic writings are skin diseases, inflammations and fevers, and more recently rheumatic disorders, insect repellent and insecticide effects. Traditional Ayurvedic uses of neem include the treatment of Acne, fever, leprosy, malaria,ophthalmia and tuberculosis. Various folk remedies for neem include use as an anthelmintic,antifeedant, antiseptic,diuretic, emmenagogue,contraceptive,febrifuge,parasiticide, pediculocide and insecticide.It has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of tetanus, urticaria, eczema, scrofula and erysipelas.
Traditional routes of administration of neem extracts included oral, vaginal andtopical use. Neem oil has an extensive history of human use in India and surrounding regions for a variety of therapeutic purposes.
Formulations made of neem oil also find wide usage as a bio-pesticide for organic farming, as it repels a wide variety of pests.
Neem oil and other neem products such as neem leaves and neem tea should not be consumed by pregnant women,women trying to conceive, or children. Long-term use can cause liver damage. Neem oil is also an effective treatment for the common parasitic skin problems in pet Guinea pigs.